Assisted insemination is a procedure where sperm is placed into the reproductive tract of a woman for the purpose of impregnating the woman by using means other than sexual intercourse.
Assisted insemination is used in assisted reproductive treatment to:
- treat infertility
- enable women to produce children by using sperm provided by a sperm donor.
There are two types of assisted insemination procedures with are regulated by the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 1988. These are:
Intracervical insemination is where semen is injected high into the cervix with a short needle-less syringe. This process is relatively non-invasive.
This process most closely replicates the way in which semen is deposited by the penis in the cervix or fornix when the male ejaculates during vaginal intercourse. It is the simplest method of assisted insemination and 'unwashed' or raw semen may be used.
It is probably the most popular method and is used in most home, self and practitioner inseminations, However, more technical procedures may be used which increase the chances of conception.
To provide intracervical insemination in South Australia a medical practitioner must seek approval from the Minister for Health and Ageing. Approval is not required if intracervical insemination is performed for free, for example self insemination at home.
Intrauterine insemination is where 'washed sperm' (spermatozoa) is injected directly into a woman's uterus using a catheter.
If the semen is not washed it may result in cramping at the uterus, expelling the semen and causing pain.
To have optimal chances with intrauterine insemination the:
- woman should be under 30 years of age
- man should have a sperm count of more than five million per milliliter.
In practice, donor sperm will satisfy these criteria.
To undertake intrauterine insemination in South Australia, a provider must be registered with the Minister for Health and Ageing and be Reproductive Technology Accreditation Committee (RTAC) accredited.
Self insemination is not regulated by the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 1988 if it is undertaken for free. However, whilst not a legal requirement, it is important that if donor sperm is used, medical advice is sought for the safety of all those involved.
Consideration should also be given to obtaining legal advice particularly relating to the legal parentage of the child to be born and the rights of the sperm donor.
For further information on assisted insemination, see the Assisted insemination, the law and you fact sheet (PDF 95KB)